Historic Bridge in Nova Scotia Collapses Because of Truck- Reminder to Obey Weight and Height Limits

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Calls are being given to all drivers to obey weight and height limits on bridges after historic bridge collapses in Nova Scotia, Canada

CANSO (NOVA SCOTIA), CANADA/ REDWOOD FALLS (MINNESOTA), USA-  Government officials on local, state and national levels are urgently calling on truck drivers to beware of weight and height restrictions on bridges before crossing.  This includes crossing bridges with overhead coverings, such as through truss bridges and covered bridges, but also light weight bridges and underpasses.

This is in response to an incident that happened yesterday in the town of Canso, in the Canadian Province of Nova Scotia. There, a semi truck tried to cross the Canso Truss Bridge, a riveted Pratt through truss bridge connecting Durell’s Island with the main land. The truck made it halfway across the structure when the decking gave out and the trusses folded like a deck of cards, sending the truck and the driver 7 meters into the water. The driver was taken to the hospital for injuries. Another person who guided the truck onto the bridge got off before the collapse happened. A video and a link to the article about the incident is below.

Link with video:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fbert.delorey.1%2Fvideos%2F310576820116648%2F&show_text=0&width=560

http://globalnews.ca/news/7150678/steel-truss-bridge-near-canso-n-s-collapses/

The bridge, which was the main link to the island was scheduled to be replaced because of its age and structural obsoleteness. Workers had been doing some prep work for a new bridge built alongside the nearly century old structure.  A temporary crossing is in the works, yet ferry service has been made available for the island’s residents.

The incident came as officials in Redwood and Renville Counties in Minnesota recently installed “headache” bars at another historic bridge. The Gold Mine Bridge is a Parker through truss bridge spanning the Minnesota River at county highway 17 near the village of Delhi. It was one of two known surviving works of German engineer- later politician, Lawrence H. Johnson, who built the structure in 1903.  Truck drivers have reported to have crossed the bridge despite it having a five ton weight limit.  Currently, nearby bridges at county highways 6 and 101 are being rebuilt. A bar with the height of 8.5 feet (2 meters) has been erected at both ends of the bridge and a speed limit of 10 mph has been enforced.Truckers needing to cross the Minnesota River are urged to use the Hwy. 71 and 19 Bridges at Morton.

Bridge collapses as a result of disregarding weight and height restrictions are nothing new, for an average of 25-30 bridges worldwide have either been severely damaged or totally destroyed- a third of which come from the United States and Canada. Truckers have complained of being dependent on the GPS system and finding short cuts, yet part of the problem stems from the lack of education, in particular math and sciences, that has become important for all businesses in general. Truckers need it to understand weight and gravity, but also to calculate the difference between convenience versus safety.  Other factors like working conditions with poor pay must also be taken into account. While many are annoyed that these bridges have restrictions and signs are needed to inform them, as one engineer stated in response to a collapse of another historic bridge in Iowa in 2017: Signs are there to save lives.

Tips on how to avoid areas, including bridges, that are restricted can be found in an interview done in 2015, which you can click here.

BHC 10 years

Newsflyer: 9 September, 2019

 

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Click here to listen to the Podcast. The links and photos of the bridges in detail are below:

 

Links:

Historic Staffeler Bridge in Limburg to be replaced. Old bridge to be repurposed for recreational use:

https://www.fnp.de/lokales/limburg-weilburg/limburg-hessen-staffeler-bruecke-soll-bleiben-12947468.html

 

Gänsetorbrücke spanning the River Danube at Ulm. Photo taken by AHert [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D
Historic Gänsetorbrücke in Ulm/ Neu-Ulm to be torn down and replaced after losing its historic status:

https://www.swp.de/suedwesten/staedte/ulm/gaenstorbruecke-denkmalschutz-ist-vom-tisch-33019623.html

The Bridges of Ulm: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/the-bridges-of-ulm-germany/

Ulrich Finsterwalder Biography: https://www.b-tu.de/great-engineers-lexikon/ingenieure/finsterwalder-ulrich-1897-1988

King William Road with the Towers of the Bridge in the Background. Photo taken by Adam J.W.C (wikiCommons)

Historic King William Bridge in Adelaide, Australia to either close or be replaced by 2030:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-04/king-william-road-adelaide-bridge-might-need-to-be-replaced/11476978

 

Historic Bridge Stones stolen by vandals at historic bridge in Yorkshire. Police investigating:

https://www.wakefieldexpress.co.uk/news/crime/yorkshire-stone-stolen-from-200-year-old-grade-1-listed-bridge-at-ferrybridge-1-9969320

Hammersmith Bridge in London. Source: “Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0”

Historic Hammersmith Bridge in London to be Rehabilitated. Closed for three years.

https://www.taxi-point.co.uk/single-post/2019/09/03/Hammersmith-Bridge-repair-work-starts-and-expected-to-last-THREE-YEARS

Mangaweka Bridge in New Zealand spared demolition- will remain as a pedestrian/ bike crossing:

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/the-country/news/article.cfm?c_id=16&objectid=12264113

 

Brunel’s historic bridge in Bristol celebrating its birthday milestone (not the suspension bridge though):

https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/whats-on/huge-birthday-celebrations-brunels-bridge-3277964

 

And Information on preservation and fundraising efforts (Contact Details included):

https://www.brunelsotherbridge.org.uk/

 

Historic drawbridge in Florida rehabbed and reopened to traffic:

http://bocanewspaper.com/camino-bridge-finally-reopens-after-renovations-28231

Historic bridge in Costa Rica faces unknown future as community mulls at replacement:

https://vozdeguanacaste.com/en/historic-bridge-in-liberia-faces-uncertain-future/

 

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The Covered Bridges of Jennings County, Indiana

The following is a documentary about the two remaining covered bridges in Jennings County, courtesy of History in Your Backyard. Check this out, plus the rest of the tour guide on the county’s historic bridges here, courtesy of historicbridges.org.

 

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Historic Truss Bridge in Chemnitz to be torn down

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The Bridge at Eckstrasse in Chemnitz. Photo taken in December 2016

CHEMNITZ, GERMANY- Located in the central part of the German state of Saxony, Chemnitz, with a population of 245,000 inhabitants, is the third largest city in the state. It also has one of the largest number of historic bridges in the state, competing with the likes of Dresden, Leipzig and even some smaller communities, like Plauen, Glauchau, Rochlitz and Waldheim, just to name a few.   Among the historic bridges, Chemnitz has five truss bridges, half as many as the city’s arch bridges. This includes the Chemnitz Viaduct, the railroad overpass near the Central Railway Station, and in the photo above, the bridge at Eckstrasse in the northern part of the city center.

Spanning the River Chemnitz, this 25 meter long span is a bedstead Pratt pony truss bridge with riveted connections. The vertical beams are V-laced and there are parallel diagonal beams. Although there are no records about its builder, the bridge was constructed in 1893 and survived two World Wars and the Cold War unscathed, which is in contrast to the buildings that had once stood before the bombings in February and March 1945. Sadly the bridge was also the subject of neglect as there were no repairs or rehabilitations done with the structure. It was closed to motorized vehicles in 2006 and was voted Germany’s worst bridge by the automobile association ADAC, a year later.

After years of neglect, the bridge’s days are officially number, according to the Chemnitz Free Press in connection with the city council’s decision. Beginning 13 August 2018, the bridge will be permanently closed to all traffic including cyclists and pedestrians. At the cost of 30,000 Euros, the construction crews will remove the truss structure in its entirety. No replacement is expected, which means cyclists and pedestrians will be forced to use the nearest crossings at Shoe Bridge and Müller Bridge. A map below shows you the three bridges:

The project is expected to take two weeks to complete. The reason behind the decision to remove the bridge does not have much to do with the cost for rehabilitating the bridge but more on the practicality of doing it, for many structural elements on the truss bridge is kaputt. Even during the visit in December 2016, one of the first impressions was the rust and corrosion on the truss superstructure itself. That went along with the rough decking with dips and cracks. These were issues that could have been fixed at the time prior to its closing in 2006, yet lack of funding may have played a role in delaying the rehabilitation process, eventually to a point of no return in the end. With over two dozen bridges over the River Chemnitz, with four bridges in the north of the city center, the Eckstrasse crossing was considered expendable because of the nearest crossings at Shoe Bridge and Müller Bridge, each were approx. 250 meters apart from this bridge.

The Eckstrasse Bridge will leave the cityscape with two opposite impressions. On the one hand, it will leave as one of the rarest historic bridges in Saxony that withstood history and the test of time. Yet it will be relieved of the humility of being the most neglected bridge that, if there had been expertise and financial resources, it could’ve been rehabbed and reused. Sometimes one has to follow the Indiana rule, which is if the bridge cannot carry vehicular traffic, it is rehabbed right away instead of being abandoned first. 80% of historic bridges in the Hoosier state were preserved that way. And while it is too late to save this rare jewel in Chemnitz, the state of Saxony should be put on notice should another historic bridge be put under the knife for structural deficiencies.

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Bridges Should Be Beautiful by Ian Firth

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Abstract from ted.com: Bridges need to be functional, safe and durable, but they should also be elegant and beautiful, says structural engineer Ian Firth. In this mesmerizing tour of bridges old and new, Firth explores the potential for innovation and variety in this essential structure — and how spectacular ones reveal our connectivity, unleash our creativity and hint at our identity.

Author’s Note: This video came about via tip from one of the pontists in one of the social network sites devoted to historic bridges and serves as a reminder to another article published a week earlier on by Scottish engineers suggesting American bridge builders look for sources of inspiration in places outside their borders. In the past two decades, many new structures have been built to supplant other, fancier historic bridges, whose design presents an appealing taste to the public. The mentality of quantity versus quality at the lowest possible cost but at the same time with little or no maintenance for a century has resulted in blocks of concrete with no character ruling the rivers and streams with little or no aesthetic value. This myth is just a fantasy and is miles away from reality that we see on highways and in cities today. No wonder that protests against such projects to replace historic bridges with boring, bland modern structures presented by agencies with dilluted and questionable facts are increasing sharply, as we are seeing with the debate over the future of Frank Wood Memorial Bridge in Maine, for example.  The advice to take from the article (accessed here) and by looking at the video below is this: If a bridge needs to be replaced, find a way to reuse the structure for other purposes and if a new bridge is needed, please with an aesthetic appeal that the community will be happy with. Sometimes looking to Europe, Asia or even Africa will help engineers be creative and place quality over quantity. Better is looking at the bridge designs that have been discarded and experimenting with them. After all, money does not matter to bridge building. Communities and the lives of the People living there do, though.

Enjoy the Ted Talk Video  below. 🙂

Video:

 

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Zellstoff Bridge Receives New Flooring

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Zellstoff Bridge after getting a new decking in 2018.

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ZWICKAU (SAXONY), GERMANY-  In a previous article on the Iron Bridge in Aue, the author mentioned that as many as nine bridges along the Zwickau Mulde have been or are being rehabilitated or replaced; many of them were damaged because of the Great Flood of 2013, which is being commemorated this month.

If we count this bridge north of Zwickau, the Zellstoff Bridge, which opened recently, then it makes ten bridges within 2-3 years.  After tolerating a wooden decking that was wide on the one hand but warped and worn out on the other, the local crews replaced the bridge flooring during the spring and reopened the bridge a month ago. The cost of the project was between 300 and 700,000 Euros, much of which was financed locally.  At the same time, new railings were added to ensure that the crossing does not become a liability.

During my visit most recently, one can see the difference between the time before and the time after the construction. The decking has the same characteristics of wood but it it much smoother than before. The only caveat is that the decking is about 2 meters narrower than before, which makes crossing the bridge by foot riskier. Nevertheless, the new decking is greeted with open arms as many people use the trail connecting the north of Zwickau with areas to the north and east. During my last visit, more and more people used the bridge than in 2016 and decking played a key role there. As one of the fellow pontists said in my recent correspondance:  A narrow deck is built to conform to engineering standards. For pedestrian bridges, the bridge must be able to hold the weight of the deck fully loaded, with people standing shoulder to shoulder. Nevertheless, if the decking is used as often as it is now, with as much maintenance as it needs, it will last a long time and perhaps it will buy the City of Zwickau more time to give the bridge a real make-over when it is needed.

This is the second rehabilitation of the bridge since it was saved from demolition in 2007. The bridge used to be a rail crossing over the Zwickau Mulde River and the eastern bank used to hold a paper factory, which had been in business until its removal in the 1990s.

For more on the bridge, check out the tour guide on Zwickau’s bridges by clicking here.

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Thought of the Day: Maintenance Is Preservation

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This photo was taken by fellow pontist Will Truax which needs no explanation. This sign can be found at the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts, which is a National Historical Site. Albeit not a historic bridge, you can find our more about its history here. This saying applies to all historic places, inlcuding bridges, something that we seem to forget nowadays, in the age of modernization and waste.

Some Food for Thought! 🙂

 

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Chimney Rock Bridge Given New Life

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Chimney Rock Bridge in Winneshiek County, Iowa. Photo taken in 2009

 

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111-year old product of a Chicago bridge builder to be rehabilitated and reopened to traffic after being closed since last year.

DECORAH, IOWA- Winneshiek County has made headlines in the past couple years due to its problems with functionally obsolete bridges, many of them being over 80 years old and in need of extensive repairs in order to keep them open longer. With a lack of funding, the county is having problems with making the necessary repairs and replacements, while at the same time, enforce the laws involving weight limits. The collapse of the Gilliece Bridge last month by an overweight and oversized truck stressed the importance of laws to protect bridges, especially this bowstring arch bridge, as it is still listed on the National Register of Historic Places but its future is rather bleak at the moment. The driver of the rig has since been formally charged for reckless driving, damage to property and disobeying traffic laws.

But there is a silver lining behind one of the county’s few remaining historic bridges in the Chimney Rock Bridge. Built in 1906 by the Continental Bridge Company at an unknown location, the 162-foot long bridge has spanned the Upper Iowa River at its current location since 1952. The pin-connected Parker through truss bridge with Town Lattice portal and heel bracings has been closed since flooding devastated the region late last summer. Now it will be given new life as supervisors of Winneshiek County have recommended repairing the bridge instead of tearing it down. According to county engineer, Lee Bjerke in an interview with Decorah News, the cost for totally replacing the historic bridge would be at least $780,000, whereas making repairs to the bridge would cost $400,000 less. Furthermore, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency chipping in for most of the expenses, the county would only have to pay $57,000 for the work.

For many, this is a win-win situation not only for its preservation of a key crossing that has been in service for over a century- 65 years of which has been at this site. For county supervisor Dean Thompson, this might be the best shot at preserving a historic bridge in Winneshiek County.  The county has lost several bridges since 2005, which includes the demolition of the beloved Fifth Avenue Bridge in Decorah in 2005, the last-minute decision to tear down the Turkey River Bowstring Arch Bridge in 2009, salvaging only the Queenpost portion of the Upper Bluffton Bridge in 2012, and lastly the most recent destruction of the Gilliece Bowstring Arch Bridge last month. The truss bridge at the Diversion Canal west of Decorah is slated for replacement very soon, while the Ft. Atkinson and Henry Bridge‘s futures are questionable, the former having been closed since 2013. With Eureka, Ten Mile Creek and Freeport preserved as historic sites, the county may have to think ahead about preserving the remaining bridges before they are met with the wrecking ball. With F.W. Kent Park up and running, followed by another one set to open in Winterset in the near future, having a historic bridge park similar to the one in Michigan may be the most viable option left on the table together with a bike trail connecting Decorah and points along the Upper Iowa or to the southwest.

Whether residents are of the same opinion and are willing to chip in their money and manpower has yet to be seen. Yet, saving the Chimney Rock Bridge is taking a step forward in the right direction. If anything, it provides access to the park and campground again and will be a recreational treat for hikers and fishers alike.

Click here to read an essay the author wrote 12-years ago about the Chimney Rock Bridge and the Continental Bridge Company. You can also find it on the wordpress version of the Chronicles. Enjoy the pics by clicking on the links above in the article.  The Chronicles will keep you informed on the latest on the bridges in the county.

 

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C.W. Gove of Windom, Minnesota

Petersburg Village Bridge
Petersburg Village Bridge in Petersburg (Jackson County), MN Photo taken by MnDOT in 1963

This article is in connection with the creation of the database for the Bridge Builder’s Directory in the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ wordpress page, which you can click here to view. More information is needed on this gentleman, who contributed a great deal in engineering southwestern Minnesota, including Jackson, Cottonwood and Murray Counties. If you have information that will help, the contact details are at the end of the article.

Charles Wallace Gove is a little known figure in the engineering business as his primary focus was building bridges, roads and ditches in southern Minnesota, in and around Cottonwood County  (where Windom is located). Little is known about the bridges he built except records  indicated he built two bridges in Jackson County (which are profiled at the end of this info  sheet) and an unknown number in his county. On the political level, he was a dedicated  farmer and political journalist who left his mark at the State Capitol with his plan that is still  being used today for commercial farming.

Born in 1863 in De Witt, Iowa, he and his brother Wade settled in Jackson County, Minnesota in 1886, where he farmed and taught in nearby Lakefield until his move to Cottonwood County in 1895, where he established his farmstead in Great Bend Twp. northwest of Windom.  From that time on until his death in 1936, Mr. Gove busied himself with the transportation sector, first as a surveyor until 1912 and then afterwards, as a county engineer. During his tenure as surveyor, he led the efforts in constructing ditches in Cottonwood, Nobles and Murray Counties and later on in parts of Jackson County, as flooding was rampant during that time, and farmers needed them to provide runoff for the excess waterflow.

It was also during that time that he led the bridge building effort in parts of Jackson County, as county officials were turning to local builders who were willing to construct bridges at an affordable price. While the bridges he built were not spectacular in design, his most worthy structures were the bridge near Rost as well as the second crossing at Petersburg, built in 1912 and 1915, respectively.  When he was not building bridges and maintaining the roads in Cottonwood County, he wrote various articles and essays for local and regional newspapers, including his most famous one, the Minnesota Plan. There, he advocated simpler farming techniques, which included constructing  deeper and systematic plowing before planting and ditches to provide water run-off.  His writings dealt with philosophical thoughts mixed with a bit of wit and humor that made the readers enjoy every paragraph. He was recognized by the state for his work at the time of his death. Charles Gove died on 29 August, 1936.

Rost Bridge
Rost Bridge. Photo take by MnDOT in 1948

The Bridges built by C.W. Gove:

Rost Bridge

Location:  Little Sioux River at 390th Avenue, 0.1 mile south of Interstate 90 in Rost Twp.

Type:  Steel stringer with steel railings (altered in the 1970s)

Dimensions: 32.3 feet long; 16.4 feet wide

Built in 1912, replaced in 2002

This bridge used to carry a key road to the unincorporated village of Rost, located 2 miles north of the bridge. The village had a couple trading businesses and a church, the latter of which still exists today. The contract was given to C.W. Gove to build this bridge on 8 July, 1912, which was completed by the end of that year. The road was cut off by the Interstate in 1973 and after 90 years in service, this bridge was replaced by a pair of culverts in 2002.

 

Petersburg Village Bridge

Location: West Fork Des Moines River on a local road in Petersburg

Type: Two-span Pratt pony truss with pinned connections and steel cylindrical piers

Dimensions: 171 feet long (2x 81-foot truss spans); 16 feet wide

Built in 1915 replacing an earlier structure; destroyed in the 1965 flooding during the construction of its replacement upstream. Replacement bridge opened in 1965

The Village Bridge was the longest bridge known to have been built by C.W. Gove. He was awarded a contract to build the structure for $3050 to replace the bridge built 30 years earlier, just after it was founded. The bridge was in service until the Flood of 1965, which destroyed the structure. It was also at that time that a construction worker at the new bridge, located one mile west of the old one, fell into the icy river and drowned. His body was recovered in June 1965, three months after the replacement bridge opened to traffic

 

Do you know of other bridges built by C.W. Gove or have some more knowledge about the Minnesota plan or his written work? Let’s hear about it. Contact Jason D. Smith at the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com and feel free to provide some additional information for this fact sheet about this unknown engineer who left a mark on the local level. The info will be added and/or modified  based on what comes in.

 

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Photos of the Rost and Petersburg Village Bridges are courtesy of MnDOT

 

Height detector test: New innovation for high truss bridges?

Photo taken in August 2013

In light of the I-5 bridge disaster over the Skagit River in Washington State, whose cause was a truck hitting the portal bracing of the Warren through truss bridge, questions have flown around as to whether a witch hunt to eradicate them is worth all the billions of dollars to be spent, or if it makes more sense to restrict them further for a fraction of the price and if so, how?

What about the usage of height detectors? This concept may be unusual to many engineers and politicians, but they are being used in many regions of the country today.

Like this one in Le Sueur, Minnesota. Located along the Minnesota River, the largest community of Le Sueur County with 4,000 inhabitants is the birth place of William Mayo, one of the founders of the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, two hours to the east of town. While the town has a nice city center to the east of the railroad, it does have a thorn on its side, something city officials are hoping to get rid of when the railroad decides to abandon its line between Mankato and Shakopee, which is this deck plate girder bridge:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This railroad bridge crosses Hwy. 93 and has provided numerous headaches for drivers for two reasons: 1. The hill leading to the underpass is steep and after going underneath the bridge, you end up on the Minnesota River bridge and 2. The underpass is too narrow and too low for trucks to pass, forcing many truck drivers to use the exit to the north of town (at Hwy. 112 and US Hwy. 169). As the railroad is very active on this line, state and local authorities for many years have tried to place warning signs on both ends of the crossing, even warning drivers from as far away as US Hwy. 169 to consider other options if their load is too wide or even too narrow.

This concept was found just east of the interchange on Hwy. 93. How it functions is simple: if an overheight truck passes by the detector, an alarm will activate warning drivers of the danger ahead forcing him to change his course. A secondary alarm is activated warning police and other officials of the danger ahead so that they can act quickly and stop the person before reaching the underpass or bridge with a low clearance.

Given the lack of ability of some drivers to pay attention to weight and height restrictions of many bridges in the country, with the resulting factor being damage or destruction of the structure, this concept may be the best solution to the problems involving bridges with these handicaps. With millions of bridges with height restrictions on America’s highways, the cost for replacing every single structure would be so exorbitant that it would put the entire country back into an economic recession that would be worse than the one we just saw recently in 2008/09. This is not counting the cost for environmental impact and mitigation surveys and the design of the structure. In Minnesota alone, at least two dozen of these bridges are still in operation on the state’s highways, many of which still have some years of service left, like the Hwy. 7 Bridge west of Montevideo. This Parker span has spanned the Chippewa River since 1959 and is in tip-top condition.

Photo taken in December 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This leads us to our question for the forum:

Do you think that height and weight restriction devices like the one in Le Sueur would be the most effective way to keep overweight and/or oversize vehicles from utilizing bridges with such restrictions? If so, how can we ensure that these people obey these restrictions without damaging or destroying the bridge? If it is not a viable solution, what alternatives would you recommend?

You can place your comments here on this page, or on the Chronicles’ facebook or LinkedIn pages. By doing so, you might have some ideas to share with others, who might find them interesting and useful. Furthermore it will help many people who think replacement is the only option to look at more reasonable options which can save money and force many people to think common sense.  Looking forward to your thoughts on this innovation, which seems to be a very effective solution to our height and weight problems on the roads.

Note: The Skagit River crossing reopened to traffic on 15 September after crews replaced the temporary Bailey truss spans with concrete beams spans, built at the site where a section of the truss bridge collapsed. More information can be found here.

The Minnesota River crossing featured a 700 foot truss bridge (400 foot Pennsylvania, 200 foot Parker and 100 foot Warren pony) built in 1923 by the Wausau (Wisconsin) Bridge and Iron Works Company, replacing an iron Post through truss bridge. It used to carry US Hwy. 169 before it was relocated to the west and served as a bypass in 1967. The bridge was replaced with a current structure- a concrete slab bridge- in 1984. A photo of the Post truss can be found here as well as the 1923 span (here).